A lot of birds come in search of food in winter. Lend a hand by starting, continuing or expanding your bird feeding efforts.
If you can’t plant a shepherd’s cane in the ground to hang your feeders, look for other options. Sturdy tree branches, hooks and supports used for summer hanging baskets, and deck railings are , are some possibilities.
When the holidays are over, recycle your Christmas tree into a bird shelter and feeder. Move it outdoors and decorate with orange slices, cranberry strands, and other songbird treats.
Place bird feeders no more than 3 feet and no more than 30 feet from your home to reduce the risk of fatal window crashes. You can further reduce the risk by hanging streamers in front of your windows or putting decals on them.
Choose a site with nearby trees and shrubs that allow songbirds to quickly escape predators. Avoid slow-growing shrubs that harbor feral cats, which kill over a billion songbirds each year.
Avoid excessively windy, damp or exposed areas. Provide a little more shelter from the elements by pinning evergreen branches above the feeder.
Add water sources to support and attract different birds. In colder regions, a bubbler, heater, or aerator is required to prevent water from freezing. As always, it’s important to keep your birdbath clean.
Buy a quality bird seed mix. These may be more expensive, but they have a higher percentage of seeds that birds like to eat. Many cheaper brands pack milo, oats, and wheat into their mixes, and birds tend to discard them, giving preference to the more desirable seeds in the mix.
Use different species and feeders to attract different groups of birds. Also, don’t forget ground prey such as dung, quail, and mourning doves.
Black oil sunflower seeds are a favorite food of cardinals, buntings, chicks, finches, grosbeaks, jays, juncos, nuthatch, tits and woodpeckers. It is also a favorite of squirrels. Install squirrel baffles if you don’t want these creatures to devour all of your bird seeds. please.
Nyjer thistles are favorites of finches, goldfinches, siskins and buntings. Buy fresh seeds and use feeders that keep them dry. Finches and others tend to avoid old, damp Nigel thistle seeds.
White millet is another popular seed and a favorite of ground feeders such as dung, siskin and spruce. Cardinals, finches, grosbeaks and sparrows also eat them.
Nuts and cracked corn attract jays, woodpeckers, nuthatch and brown creepers. Mix them with other seeds or include a specially designed nut feeder in your landscape.
Suet is an excellent bait for woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadee and jays. Other birds such as wrens and cardinals may even be visiting sweat feeders.
Sprinkle seeds on the ground near feeders to help birds find new food sources. If birds eat the scattered seeds but do not visit the feeding grounds, keep the birds closer with additional seeds.
Keep feeders clean and full so birds know they have a reliable source of food. Once the feeder is empty, it may take several days to attract it to your garden.
Evaluate existing landscapes and look for opportunities to add new plants that provide food, shelter and nesting space for birds. Creating more bird-friendly landscapes helps increase the number and diversity of winged visitors. Their presence adds color and movement to winter landscapes, and seeing them is uplifting. .
Melinda Myers is the author of over 20 books on gardening, including “Midwest Gardener’s Handbook, 2nd Edition” and “Small Space Gardening”. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and her website is her MelindaMyers.com.